FACTORS IN EMPLOYEE MOTIVATION/SATISFACTION
by Steve Falkenberg
Department of Psychology
Eastern Kentucky University
Richmond, KY 40475
There are two factors which operate to determine if an employee will
be a "problem" employee or if they will be a "motivated" employee. One
of these factors has to do with meeting needs and achieving goals--Getting
that BMW, swimming pool, etc. The other factor has to do with how meaningful
the work is and whether the person feels they are appreciated for what
A FAIR AGREEMENT--ENTITLEMENTS
People have certain needs and goals. In order to attain their goals and
meet their needs they will enter into agreements to do work and provide
services in exchange for the things they need and want.
One key to making these agreements satisfactory is fairness. Before
entering into the agreement the person wants to know that he/she will be
Poor morale can result from the workers perception that she/he will is
being treated unfairly by the organization or that he/she is being deprived
of something to which she/he is entitled as part of what they thought was
a fair agreement.
The individuals concern with salary, benefits, perks, etc. is a part of
the concern about a fair agreement.
The salary and benefits do not serve as motivators. The workers motivation
doesn't depend on the salary. The workers view is that she/he is entitled
to the salary and benefits. It is an entitlement, not an incentive.
If the agreement is perceived as unfair, the worker will be dissatisfied
and poor morale will result. But if the agreement is fair, it will play
little role in determining whether she/he is a motivated/satisfied employee.
This can be fixed by:
This can result from real unfairness--the organization welshes on a deal,
goes back on a contract, etc.
Can result from failures in communication when the two parties have different
understandings of an agreement.
VALUE AND APPRECIATION: THE KEY TO MOTIVATION AND SATISFACTION.
Even when the agreement is fair and understood it takes something more
to motivate the worker-- to keep the worker interested and committed to
perform. It is quite common for someone to be getting an excellent salary
and benefits, to not have to work too hard, and to hate every minute of
their job. Some of these individuals quit that job and take one with lower
salary and worse benefits because it is motivating to them.
Kiersy says that what motivates people is appreciation (Kiersy and Bates,
1978). A motivated employee is one that feels appreciated. Most people
will spend a lot of time (after work and on weekends) working for no pay,
and often working a lot harder than they do at their job, to do something
that will be appreciated.
Morale problems can result if the employee does not feel appreciated.
The easiest way to deal with this type of problem is to increase the participation
of the workers in management decisions and to increase communication.
This can happen if manager fails to communicate appreciation to the employee.
The manager must convince the workers that their skills and knowledge are
This can happen if the worker feels that management does not care about
SOME COMMENTS ON THE USE OF INCENTIVES TO DEAL WITH MORALE PROBLEMS.
Lack of appreciation/value cannot be compensated for by incentives.
If you give an incentive to an employee who doesn't feel appreciated she/he
will label you a fool and take your money and curse you behind your back.
A merit increment given to this employee will not result in increased productivity.
In fact it may result in increased alienation.
And you certainly can't compensate for lack of appreciation by withholding
incentives. When you reduce or withhold the merit increment for an employee
who doesn't feel appreciated you simply confirm that she/he is not appreciated.
Withholding the incentive will increase the alienation of the employee
and more than likely lead to reduced productivity.
If an employee feels appreciated already, then a bonus or incentive increment
is an ideal way to prove to that employee that she/he is appreciated. It
is putting your money where your mouth is. And then the employee will work
even harder to achieve the objectives of the organization. But it is not
the incentive that produces the increased productivity. If the incentive
works to improve the employee's performance, it is because it confirms
her/his feelings of being appreciated--a valued member of the organization.
Keirsey, D. and Bates, M (1978) Please Understand Me: Character and
temperament types.Prometheus Nemesis Books, Delmar CA. (Third Edition)
Send comments to:
Copyright © 1997 Steve Falkenberg